Lucky? Some may call it lucky when a deer hunter harvests multiple upper echelon trophy bucks while hunting from the same tree. Some would emphasize those lucky thoughts considering that tree sits within a relatively small 80-acre farm that contains just 13 acres of timber — patches of 11 acres and two acres.|
I submit luck has little, if anything, to do with this story. Proper preparation meeting opportunity coupled with perfect execution equals this success.
Jon Wolfe, 63, of Galva grew up near Polo, Ill., hunting small game. In 1974 he was on the ground floor putting together the now nationally acclaimed equine-horse science program at Black Hawk College East in Kewanee. Less than 20 years ago, he joined the ranks of deer hunters. Just a half-dozen years ago, he added a bow to his hunting resume.
Horses are mentioned in a deer hunt story because of his answer to the question, "Do you think your professional background with large animals has anything to do with your deer hunt success?"
"I've never been asked that before," the now retired professor mused. "But the answer is probably, yes. I think over the years I gained an ability to read an animal's behavior and thus anticipate what it will probably do next. And that keys me what to do or not do."
Now roll back slightly to Halloween 2012 when Wolfe headed to the Henry county farm. It was just his third bow hunt of the season, but he well knew pre-run was there — optimal time for the big boys to be on the move looking for that special lady. Also somewhere in the back of his mind were trail cam photos of a tremendous buck, sightings of a tremendous buck by others folks, not to mention an up-close-and-personal encounter with such a buck about a year before.
"After settling in my stand I watched an 8-pointer for a while and let him pass," Wolfe recalled. "About 20 minutes later, a huge buck with huge antlers came out of the brush just 30 yards away, and stared at me for what seemed a long time but was probably just a minute or so. Of course, I didn't move, didn't make eye contact or look directly at his antlers. In fact I really maintained my composure.
"Then he slowly started walking my way, stopped about 20 yards away and stared at me again. When he slowly started moving again and went behind a large tree, I was able to draw my bow, aim and release the arrow when I could see his vital area. I watched him whirl, run a couple hundred yards and disappear."
Now let's go back to 2011 with Wolfe sitting in that same tree.
"I watched a couple deer run off after they busted me," he said. "While I was quietly turning around, I looked down and directly under me is the huge buck from a couple years of trail cam photos! I though that I could shoot sitting, but from that angle, I couldn't get to full draw. So I slowly let off. He looked up and even though I didn't move, he left. I was hoping I'd get another opportunity at that buck during firearm season, but never saw him again. Then this spring I found one of his sheds, so I knew he made it through deer season."
Not all was lost for Wolfe and his special tree in 2011. He did harvest a super buck that scored just over 161 from that tree. And while thinking special tree, there's the 206-inch bruiser that Wolfe harvested from there in 2000, during his gun-only hunting days.
Now back to the Halloween hunt.
"After dark, my wife and I retraced the buck's path and soon found him," Wolfe said. "Only then did I realize it was the same buck from under the tree a year before, the same buck from years of trail cam photos and the same buck from the big shed I found last spring. It all came together."
For the record, this Wolfe trophy buck has 20 scoreable points, an inside spread of 17 inches, scored a gross total of a whopping 213 7/8 inches, weighed 247 pounds field-dressed and is thought to be 6½ years old.
Ikes on ice: The annual Geneseo Chapter Izaak Walton League ice fishing contest last Saturday under ideal weather conditions drew nearly 90 competitors. Winners included: 10 heaviest bluegills — Austin Schatti, East Moline; heaviest crappie — Matt Meyers, East Moline; and heaviest bass — Chris Thompson, Cambridge.
Pheasants Forever banquet: The Rock Island/Henry County chapter of Pheasants Forever will have its long-running annual fundraising banquet on Friday, Feb. 1, at the Milan Community Center. Tickets are $55 per membership, $25 for a spouse and $25 for ringnecks—youngsters under 18, one of which may win an Illinois Lifetime Hunting License. For complete information or to order tickets, call Bill Martin (309) 787-0340.
Bob Groene is outdoors writer for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, he can be reached at email@example.com
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